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Just in time for Trump, The Founder, thoughts on feminism, 20th Century Women, and M. Night’s rebound, Split

Also a fanciful take on a poet’s political perils, Neruda, and a late-arriving Studio Ghibli animation, Ocean Waves

Nominations for our top movie awards were announced this week and co-incidentally the Cinematheque which has been running a series of the best Canadian films of last year still has several to go. So you can catch the top nominee (9 nods and Canada’s Oscar entry) Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, tonight, Saturday and Sunday, and BC’s most nominated with four nods, Kevan Funk’s Hello Destroyer on Saturday night.

Another with four nominations, Werewolf, about a couple of Nova Scotia drug addicts, also screens  tonight and Nelly, a drama about a controversial Quebec writer, screens Sunday. You can read about all the Canadian Screen Awards nominations, film, TV and digital, at http://www.academy.ca/

And these are new in theatres this week:

The Founder:  2 ½ stars

20th Century Women:  3

Split:  3 ½

Neruda:  4

Ocean Waves:  3

xXx  Return of Xander Cage:  --

THE FOUNDER: Donald Trump couldn’t have ordered anything more. This is a salute pure and simple to American entrepreneurship and it’s opening is on the very day of his inauguration. His business ethos is reflected all through it including positive thinking and perseverance and there’s another parallel, a small one. The business here is selling hamburgers but the back-up strong point is real estate. And if you look a little closer you’ll see quite a nasty underbelly with some less pleasant truths about modern business. 

Michael Keaton is ever jovial and moving forward as Ray Kroc the man who started out selling milkshake machines and, then using other people’s ideas, grew the McDonald’s chain into the behemoth it’s become. The real innovators were the McDonald brothers (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) whose hamburger shop in California was bustling because they pushed speed and efficiency. Kroc made a deal with them, started his own outlet in Illinois, expanded by selling franchises and gradually froze the brothers out. By the end of the movie they couldn’t even use their own name at their shop and went out of business when a McDonald’s opened up across the street. The story is deceptively pretty the way the movie tells it. The colors are bright; the mood is optimistic; old images are nicely re-created. But take note of what’s there between the lines. TRIVIA: The McDonald’s on #3 road in Richmond is the first in Canada. It opened 50 years ago. (International Village) 2 ½ out of 5

20th CENTURY WOMEN: Mike Mills turns his attention to his mother this time. He dealt with his father’s coming out as gay five years ago in Beginners. Mom, or at least the character based on her, is played with endearing warmth, verve and sensibility by Annette Bening. Her life resonates nicely for anyone who can remember the late 1970s. She’s a sort of den mother to a group of young people while also trying to understand the changing world outside. She’s quick to grasp and accept it and is never short of an observation.  She controls the centre of this film in which there’s no actual story but a lot happens to the characters. Mills presents it like a series of snapshot incidents witnessed by her son (newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann, terrific).

 

He’s 15, growing up and learning about women, initially of course from mom but also at her request from a punk-photographer (Greta Gerwig) who rents a room in their house and a pretty teen (Elle Fanning) who sneaks in the window and spends nights with him. No sex, though. She’s into that with other guys; with him she just wants friendship. Another tenant (Billy Crudup) is a nice but burn-out hippie and less of a mentor. More impactful is the “hard-core” feminist literature that Gerwig passes along which leads to an awkwardly funny dinner table confrontation and later a most revealing scene with mom. Her ever-supportive veneer splinters in a quietly emotional display of acting and perceptive writing. Christopher Plummer won an Oscar as dad; Bening deserves one as mom. (International Village and one suburban theatre, Park and Tilford Gardens) 3 out of 5  

SPLIT: After his mega hit The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan came up with several critically scorned movies. Last year he rebounded with a surprise hit called The Visit and now he reinforces his comeback with a clever version of a common movie plot. A deranged man kidnaps three young women and keeps them locked up in a basement. Except he’s not just one man. He’s got 23 distinct personalities inside him –we encounter seven of them. Plus there’s a rumor cum fervent belief by some that another one is on the way. Everybody refers to him as “the Beast.”

More in New Movies

Widows of criminals doing it for themselves, the seed of modern politics and the perils of war reporting

Also an ingenious take on the migrant crisis, and a second appreciation this year of Ingmar Bergman that adds to what we already know from the first

Melissa’s forgeries, Rami’s dead-on Freddie Mercury and a cult classic re-imagined

Also: a bit of opera (real with Maria Callas and fictional in Bel Canto) and an ode to BC’s chief geographical feature in This Mountain Life
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